Panic Fest Film Review: “Sisu”

Starring: Jorma Tommila, Askel Hennie and Jack Doolan
Directed by: Jalmari Helander
Rated: R
Running Time: 91 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

When we meet the rugged dirt-covered Aatami (Jorma Tommila), we don’t know anything about him, not even his name. In the opening, wordless minutes of “Sisu,” we learn that Aatami is a prospector in northern Finland, digging around a stream with his trusty dog and horse, as the waning days of WWII are heard and seen in the distance. Aatami strikes gold, digs it out and triumphantly cheers towards the Heavens. He goes about his merry way through the bitter remnants of the Finnish countryside. It’s only until Aatami crosses paths with Nazis that we learn who he is and why you should never cross him.

Giving more information about the plot of “Sisu” would ruin a film that’s equal parts grindhouse, “Mad Max” and “Rambo.” Aatami shows multiple times throughout why he’s a one-man killing machine that should be feared instead of hunted. It’s slightly comical that everyone knows who he is, even the Finnish prisoners that are being taken who-knows-where by the dimwitted Nazis know that it’s only a matter of time before their freed. At least the persistence to kill Aatami and take his gold are explained reasonably, before we see some unrealistic and graphic kill scenes.

Unfortunately for the film, the desolate landscape doesn’t offer enough exciting action pieces for Aatami and the Nazis to play hide and seek in. It does force the director to utilize several unique escape plans for Aatami while simultaneously finding more and more bizarre yet infinitely creative ways to slice, dice and blow up Hitler’s stooges. The leader of the Nazi platoon, an SS officer played by Askel Hennie, plays a great opposite to Aatmi, sometimes having to pick up the slack when the film needs an exposition dump.

For me, the benefit of watching “Sisu” was the crowd. Anytime a Nazi blew up, got knifed, got shot, got run over, got…well…viciously killed, the crowd erupted in laughter and applause. I’m not too sure how this movie would fare at home by myself. That’s not to say that Tommila and Hennie aren’t a great WWII version of “Tom and Jerry” or that the ultimate goal of this film is to be entertained at the expense of history’s greatest foe being massacred. If you’re going to see “Sisu,” see it with a big crowd because everyone loves watching Nazis get their comeuppance. Will we ever tire of seeing Nazis killed? Probably, but not in my lifetime. I’m grateful for that and grateful for films like “Sisu,” even if it doesn’t go as balls to the wall as it could have.

Blu-ray Review “Nazis at the Center of the Earth”

Directed by: Joseph Lawson
Starring: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Josh Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson
Distributed by: The Asylum Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 24, 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 90 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

With a title like “Nazis at the Center of the Earth”, how can you obviously not be attracted to this film. Throw in zombie Nazis and a robot Hitler and you are in for a real treat. The Asylum is known for these low-budget gems. This film is made with a smirky grin and is one hell of a great time. The special effects are not bad for a film made for under $500K and do I need to repeat there is a robot Hitler in this film. If that doesn’t make you laugh and drawn to this film then this is not for you obviously.

The film follows a group of researchers in Antarctica who fall through the center of the earth and are abducted by a platoon of gas-masked Nazi soldiers. They find that in this hidden continent in the center of the Earth, they discover that Josef Mengele and group of surviving Nazi soldiers are plotting the return of Hitler using advance technology.  They are also planning the invasion of Earth in a UFO spaceship in order to create a Fourth Reich. Sounds fun right?

The Blu-ray looks and sounds great for this low-budget film. The 1080p transfer looks sharp, clear and works well with the film’s visual effects and action scenes. The audio works well with its Dolby Digital 5.1 track and rocks it with the action scenes. I commend Asylum for continuously releasing their films on Blu-ray and really embracing the format even though the film’s are low-budget.

The special features are also decent like the film. There is an audio commentary from Joseph Lawson. It is very entertaining and a real treat. Must listen for fans of the film. There is a brief featurette about the film’s Pre-Production featuring cast and crew interviews. There is a another feature called “Cast & Locations” which focuses on the shooting locations. There is a featurette on the film’s Production looking into the special effects used in the film. Lastly there is a funny Gag Reel and additional trailers for titles from The Asylum.


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